The ‘public’ announcement of ties normalization between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the state of Israel comes as no surprise to anyone conversant with events in the Middle East. And despite efforts by its architects – the trio of Trump, Netanyahu and Muhammad Bn Zayid (MBZ) – to give it a larger than life picture, it is seen largely by many observers as yet an addition to the plethora of puerile efforts at neutralizing the Palestinian struggle once again through the complicity of Arab regimes, especially those with newly found vocal voices and their crown-princes whose daring venture on the international scene included a break away from what is considered as ‘mainstream’ among Arabs when it comes to the Palestinian question.
The ‘deal’ is an inevitable culmination of a long, behind the scene, multiple romances between Israel and some few Arab states, who until the arrival of exuberant princes, have not been bold enough to pronounce such ugly possibilities.
The Arab Spring (which was a verdict of dissatisfaction with old regimes of autocrats and family dynasties under whose watches Arab nations lost almost all of their pride and dignity and became beholden to various Western powers and their Zionist implant in the region) had divided the Arab nations into two rough categories of new elements demanding democratic changes in national political life, and the old regimes bent on retaining the status quo.
The contest between these elements and their supporters has been both costly and destabilizing for the region, with aftermaths such as the wars in Syria and Yemen, and the new proxy war in Libya. In the middle of all these, the Palestinian cause remains one of central importance for measuring the sincerity and loyalty of Arab regimes to their people as well as a measure of their moral sanity and direction.
The insignificance of the normalization deal is underscored by the insignificance of the Arab nation chosen this time around to help Israel navigate this stage of the crisis as it drives through its agenda of Greater Israel which sees all currently occupied Palestinian territories including parts of Jordan and Syria as its ‘God-given’ territories.
Since playing the role of the undertaker alongside Saudi Arabia to bury the aspiration for a Palestinian statehood by supporting Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’, the UAE has felt itself of somewhat an important ally to Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s interests in the region. The Trump’s ‘Deal of the century’ is by itself an euphemism for dissolving Palestinians into amorphous political entity in exchange for so called economic package with the use of ‘Arab money’ while Israel takes over whatever is left of Palestine and other Arab territories.
This false air of importance by the UAE as an ally to America and its junior partner, the Zionist state of Israel, became accentuated when it joined Saudi Arabia and Egypt to roll back and truncate the Arab Spring that was to all of them a nightmare, much to the relief of the old regimes and their allies in the West.
But the reality thrown up by the aftermath of the Arab Spring ensured that these autocratic regimes will need unprecedented use of force to suppress dissent in their countries as witnessed in Rabaa Al Adawiyyah and Al Nahda massacres in Egypt some seven years ago, as well as in the gruesome murder of Jamal Khassoggi in a Saudi embassy in Turkey. It will also make them more dependent on external forces for support in sustaining their hold on their countries while they in turn, have to condescend to actions that are as demeaning and humiliating to the Arabs like this ties normalization with the Zionist occupation forces.
For the record, the UAE has never held any serious or strategic influence either in the region or in efforts at resolving the age long conflict usually dubbed ‘Arab/Israeli’ conflict, even though most of the Arab governments have gone back to their tents leaving only the Palestinians and the Arab population as non-state actors with little or no leverage in the crisis.
The role of the UAE which the ‘announced deal’ intends to serve on behalf of Israel, is to present it as the Arab ‘mouthpiece’ with whom ‘details’ were reached prior to Israel transiting to the next phase of physical annexation of those lands its covets. This is to stave off the accusation of unilateralism, as ‘unilateralism’ is often to blame nowadays in aggressions by uncontrollable powerful nations like Israel, rather than the aggression itself.
And this is where the whole idea of tying the normalization agreement to Israel halting its impending plans to steal more Palestinian and Arab lands through its annexation plan makes some sense.
This latest choice of the UAE for a role in the crisis is itself fallout of the many casualties that Arab nations have suffered mostly due to their own treachery and infirmity in the prosecution of the Palestinian Question: some of them were completely bought over like Egypt, others were destroyed with the naïve connivance of fellow Arab governments, while still others were cowed into submission in exchange for the perpetuation of family and regime rule.
The UAE has never been known with any military or strategic importance on issues in the region except its roguish roles in Yemen and Libya in recent time, and of course when serving as Saudi Arabia’s hatchet man in cases where the latter would rather be silent.
So, to whose benefit is the normalization agreement?
There is little doubt that the world has been paying deserved attention to the rise of right wing ideas and actions in local and global politics. The coming of Donald Trump indeed emboldened right wing white supremacists in the US, culminating in increasingly horrifying casual killing of ‘others’ considered as inferior by these elements as was the case with the killing of George Floyd. This has also had significant influence at the global level in how plural societies like India behave towards its minority, and also hardened characters like Netanyahu in the vainglorious pursuit of Eretz Israel – ‘Greater Israel’.
While Netanyahu and his Zionist supremacist elements resort to brazen theft of whatever is left of the lands of Palestine under a Trump cover, Modi’s BJP’s India stripped Kashmir of its autonomous status by scrapping Article 370 of the Indian constitution thereby turning Kashmir into another open prison like Netanyahu did of Gaza. India seemed to have shared a script from Israel in the use of annexation as a tactics to repress, subjugate and prey on the resources of its Kashmiri victims. The common factor in all of these is the projection of right wing extremist ideas unto the global stage which manufacture fresh challenges and crises for global politics with the advent of a Trump presidency.
These three –Trump, Netanyahu and Modi – are not only fond of one another as they have had a round robin visitation among themselves, they also seemed to share the belief that solving their age-long differences with the ‘others’ in their societies will require massive forceful repressions to restore their own supremacy perceived as dwindling. In the middle of all these however, these men face backlashes from poor performance in their countries, and are accused of being responsible for heightening tensions and strife in their countries, regions and on the international scene.
While Modi may seem to have escaped the electoral litmus test in his country, Netanyahu has repeatedly failed to secure clear cut victory despite incumbency, and Trump is in a life and death struggle to avoid been condemned to history as a one-time president. Besides, both Netanyahu and Trump risk jail terms in what awaits them as criminal prosecution, should they step down from their offices.
So, what does the ties normalization achieve for its promoters?
For Trump, it is an attempt to prove that he can still bring back to the table the Palestinian Question in his own style through reliance on pliant Arab regimes like the UAE after declaration by the Palestinian Authority (the PA) that they would have nothing to do with Trump or any of his proposals in resolving the crisis, effectively stalling progress on the matter since Trump took over.
Trump’s failure to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table is viewed within the wider context of his overwhelming failure at diplomacy on virtually every front including but not limited to his mishandling of the China problem and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) treaty with Iran, the P5+1 consortium of nations and the United Nations (UN). In fact, this failure was pungently highlighted in the overwhelming rejection of America’s quest to extend the sanctions on Iran at a recent UN Security vote on the matter as only the small island nation of Dominican Republic could support its bid in the 15 member-nation council. So for Trump, the ties normalization is meant to say that contrary to widely publicized conclusion that his Deal of the Century alienated the Arabs, he is being helped by the duo of UAE and Israel to tell whoever cares to listen that he still enjoys the confidence of ‘Arabs’ like the UAE.
For Netanyahu, it is not so much a big deal other than helping to save a ‘friend of Israel’ in the person of Trump at this crucial moment of the latter’s political life. For MBZ, it is yet another false feather added to the false cap of an ‘important’ regional ally of Washington and Tel Aviv. He can amuse himself with his newly found sense of importance and can enjoy same as long as the period of expediency lasts. One thing is certain though: neither he nor his other allies of Saudi Arabia or Egypt can prevail on, or halt Israel’s plan of annexation based on any gentlemanly accord. For the avoidance of doubt, and to assure his right wing base in Israel, Netanyahu has stated that the annexation plans will definitely go on, and that ties normalization with the UAE is open to any form of interpretation fancied by anybody, as Israel will complete the task whenever the time is ripe.
The ties normalization therefore is nothing more than an old game involving a new player from the Emirates.
▪︎Shakiru Yekinni A. (08026134942)
Executive Director, Center for Global Peace Initiative (CGPI)
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